Infant nutrition and infant formula were the subject of 15 high-level meetings between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) officials and representatives of the food industry over an 18-month period.

Infant formula was Ireland’s fifth most-valuable dairy export in 2021, amounting to €652 million. In total, Ireland exported dairy products to approximately 147 countries in 2021, with a value exceeding €5.1 billion for the third consecutive year.

From January 1, 2021 to May 25, 2022, 15 meetings took place in relation to infant nutrition, held by officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) – from assistant principal level upwards – and representatives of the food industry.

The details were outlined by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin’s Deputy Louise O’Reilly.

Deputy O’Reilly requested information on the number of meetings held by his departmental officials from assistant-principal level upwards with representatives of the food industry in relation to the issue of infant nutrition in Ireland from 2021 to date.

“Ireland, as a producer of high-quality, sustainable dairy products is an important source of infant and follow-on formula internationally,” Minister McConalogue said.

He explained that the DAFM supervises the production of infant and follow-on formula in Ireland through a “robust controls system ensuring infant and follow-on formula is produced to the highest standards in accordance with all relevant governing regulations”.

In addition to inspections and audits carried out by DAFM’s inspectorate, officials from the department meet periodically with representatives of the dairy industry with regard to infant nutrition, including infant formula.

The above table shows details of meetings held by department officials – from assistant principal level upwards – since 2021.

These details do not include inspections and audits by the DAFM’s inspectorate staff of food business operators who produce infant formula, as part of the department’s food-safety control system.

There are also a number of other industry forums which the DAFM hosts, for example, the Brexit stakeholder meetings, at which representatives of infant formula producers attend but where the subject matter would not specifically relate to infant nutrition and the issue of infant formula, the minister stated.